For Study, Analysis, and Public Involvement In The City’s Proposal for a New Harlow Platts Structure
For Study, Analysis, and Public Involvement In The City’s Proposal for a New Harlow Platts Structure
The City of Boulder has proposed a 1700+ square foot, 20 foot high structure at Harlow Platts Park near Viele Lake. It will have a pavilion large enough for 6 picnic tables, 2 barbeques, and 50-75 people and a structure containing permanent, year round bathrooms. (see city proposal: link) The City has conducted inadequate study and analysis and failed to provide adequate public notice or opportunity for the public to provide input and comment. The City has also failed to respond adequately to concerns raised by the public.
A. We the Petitioners request that the City of Boulder conduct the following additional analysis and study pertaining to the proposed structure, including the following:
1. Congestion and ability for Harlow Platts Park to support this entirely new and substantial activity (Tragedy of the Commons/Loved to Death). This proposed facility/pavilion is more than just a minor structure to support existing park uses. Rather, it is an entirely new substantial use of the park. Specifically, it is a new facility that will be rented for weddings and corporate events for 50-75 people, mostly adults. The City is proposing to add a new facility to the Park which is already at, or exceeding, its full capacity. Taking the land use as an example, the Park’s land capacity is already 95% used and the area proposed for this new, substantial use is one of the last remaining open, green areas within the Park. The Park currently accommodates broad community use of the soccer fields, the recreation center, swimming pool for swim meets, cross country running track for community and school races, an inline skating rink, tennis courts, volleyball courts, a disc golf course, the par course, two lakes, two playgrounds, a gazebo, and an existing pavilion. The park is already stretched to its limit which is why it needs a study to determine if it can handle more uses without degrading the experience of the community.
2. Long term planning for Harlow Platts Park. The City’s explanation for this new, substantial use is the following:
a. Generally, there has been and continues to be a demonstrated need for shelters in the Boulder Parks and Recreation System. This need has been identified through a number of outlets including community-wide feedback, actual reservations and requests, and public outreach through our Master Plan planning process.
b. The need for shelters was identified in the 2006 Parks and Recreation Master Plan and was reaffirmed in the new department master plan that was approved in February of 2014. Based on an analysis of communities with similar park and recreation facilities and amenities, the 2014 master plan shows that the department is below the necessary number of shelters and that there will be an increasing need as the City’s population increases, as it is projected to do.
c. The Parks and Recreation Department believes that providing a shelter at Harlow Platts Community Park addresses a demonstrated need in both promoting the community values and levels of service that were identified in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, as well as, addressing the community’s need for shelter space as seen in the number of reservations currently made at Harlow Platts.
Prior to constructing a new, substantial use structure in Harlow Platts Park -- that is already exceeding its capacity --, the City should analyze and re-evaluate the long term plan for Harlow Platts Park and determine what community uses it can reasonably accommodate. For example, another community park with picnic areas is Eben G. Fine Park and the community use at that park is substantial and the City has not provided sufficient parking or management of the use. Furthermore, the Parks and Rec department has taken a generalized need for additional shelters as authorization to implement a solution of their own design without re-engaging the community. The City needs to engage in more community outreach and park planning regarding balancing the uses of Harlow Platts Park before building this new, substantial structure.
3. Safety analysis - The City should conduct a thorough study of the safety risks to area children, teenagers, and adults. With the recent Jessica Ridgeway tragedy, many people now have different safety priorities for their children such that a master plan developed in 2006 may no longer reflect the needs and values of Boluder’scommunity. The dangers of these types of facilities in parks should cause the city to reconsider their use. It also provides an attractive nuisance to teenagers from the local schools to congregate without adult supervision which in other situations has led to illegal activity, such as smoking and drugs. The City should obtain the expertise of the local Principals and Teachers and local law enforcement and not base their analysis on the opinion of one single-minded department when developing a community area. The City acknowledges the facility is going to need extra security and states, “[t]he facility has been located and oriented to minimize impacts to the surrounding area and at the same time maintain visibility from Gillaspie for patrols and allow for ‘eyes on the park’.” The City should analyze, evaluate and plan for how much extra security and safety risk is involved rather than merely relying on the community to police a space the city itself has identified as needing extra policing.
4. Traffic – related to points 1 and 2 and 3, the City should evaluate the impact of renting the facility to 50-75 people on the traffic patterns, street parking, and noise. For example, on weekends, the South Boulder Recreation Center often has swim meets and the fields concurrently have soccer games which cause significant traffic congestion and dangerous road conditions. Addition of another facility that will involve adult parties with alcohol is going to cause further noise pollution, traffic congestion, and accidents that have not been addressed in the City’s proposal. It also will further limit parking and put more cars on neighborhood streets, decreasing visibility and creating another significant issue. The City also needs to consider whether this facility is consistent with the City’s desire to move people away from driving to facilities and have people rely more on public transportation and bicycles and walking.
5. Environmental effects - The City has not even considered the environmental effects of the proposed location and they should consider them because they could be quite substantial. The proposed location is near one of the few lakes within the boundaries of the City of Boulder. The land is near or within a critical wetland that provides habitat to numerous species, such as Bald and Golden Eagles, foxes, bobcats, coyotes, numerous birds and vegetation. The South Boulder Recreation Center even has a photograph of an Eagle at the lake. ( Coincidentally this photo was recently taken off display.) The area also could be critical habitat to other endangered and protected species such as the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse and Ute Laddies’ Tresses Orchid. Given the recent flood, the city should re-evaluate its wetland determinations for Clean Water Act permits with the United States Corps of Engineers and this area would be considered a wetland. The area near this structure is designated an urban forest, too. The City has not conducted any analysis of these potential environmental effects.
6. Annual Operating and Maintenance Cost analysis – one requirement of a project proposed for the bond fund is that they provide “reduced rather than increased ongoing operation and maintenance costs.” This facility will increase operating and maintenance costs because it will be adding a year round bathroom that requires staff to arrive daily to lock and unlock the facility, maintain it, provide running water, and heat it. The City has not included an analysis of this additional cost and, if they did so, it would violate the terms of the Improvement Bond.
7. Consistency with voter approved bond – the City of Boulder Ballot Issue No. 2A from the November 2011 election which authorized the bond issue stipulated that proceeds from the bond issue be used for “7) RENOVATING AND REPAIRING PARKS AND RECREATION FACILITIES”. The construction of a new, substantial use facility exceeds the voter approved legislation and the City needs to resubmit this facility to a vote. At a minimum, the Parks and Recreation Department needs to make the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the City Council, and the public aware of this facility and provide an explanation of how the investment in a large, new use facility is consistent with the original ballot language authorizing the bond issuance.
8. Historical effects – The Park is a historic site, first opening in approximately 1962, and the City has not evaluated the impact of this unsightly, new pavilion on the historic values of the park which is inconsistent with the City’s code restrictions on modifications to historic properties. Also the City has not evaluated whether this use is consistent with the original purpose and intent of the Park.
B. We the Petitioners also request the City conduct a more open and honest and thorough public involvement process. The City has held two meetings related to this proposal. The first was held on October 27, 2012 and the City proposed one location with very little information and the second meeting was recently on February 3, 2014. One hour before the February 3, 2014 meeting the City staff sent an e-mail to a few people with misleading information indicating the facility would be at the original location. The people who attended the February 3rd meeting however learned the location and extent and use of the facility had been significantly changed. The City needs to involve members of the public in the above studies and analysis and develop a proposal that relies on those studies and analysis, not one that is rashly prepared with little or no input from the public. During the development of the proposal, the City needs to provide substantial and accurate public involvement and demonstrate that the input of the public will be considered. The City needs to involve members of the surrounding neighborhood who are members of the community who will be most affected by such proposal.
By signing this petition I support the above.
Further information can be found on http://harlowplatts.com.
1. Please send this Petition on to others who you believe support the above.
2. Please send your thoughts and comments to the following:
Parks and Recreation Advisory Board Members:
- Richard Thayer (Board chair) - email@example.com, 303-413-8098, March 2009 - March 2014
- Mike Conroy (Board vice chair) - firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-413-9049, March 2011 - March 2016
- Myriah Conroy - email@example.com, 303-938-1042, March 2010 - March 2015
- Michael Guzek - firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-284-1200, March 2012 - March 2017
- Michelle Estrella - email@example.com, 303-513-9589, March 2010 - March 2015
- Kelly Wyatt - firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-473-9210, March 2013 - March 2018
- Marty Gorce - email@example.com, 303-447-8720, March 2013 - March 2018
Parks and Recreation Department:
- Doug Godfrey – project manager and parks planner, firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-413-7229 or 7225
- Jeff Haley - parks and planning manager, email@example.com, 303-413-7215
3. Please also contact the City Council. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact City Council members directly. The City Council members are the following:
- Mayor Matthew Appelbaum
- Member Macon Cowle
- Member Suzanne Jones
- Mayor Pro Tem George Karakehian
- Member Lisa Morzel
- Member Tim Plass
- Member Andrew Shoemaker (email@example.com)
- Member Sam Weaver
- Member Mary D. Young (YoungM@bouldercolorado.gov).
4. Please attend the next City Council Meeting which is Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 6 p.m.
Address: Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80306
Mailing Address: City Council Office, P. O. Box 791, Boulder, CO 80306 or PO Box 4623, Boulder, CO 80306